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Data, Big Data, & Really Big Data…

I attended an Executive Roundtable sponsored by Webolutions in November.  Webolutions (https://www.webolutions.com/ ) is my preferred “Thought Leader” when it comes to what’s going on in marketing.

John Vachalek and his team (including Mike Hanbery, John Brackney and Cindy McGovern) have addressed several key topics in their 2017 Round Tables: “IoT and the Impacts on Your Organization”; “Developing a More Engaged and Productive Workforce”.  November’s topic – one of my favorites – was “Effectively Using Data to Drive Organizational Success”.

The discussion centered on Key Performance Indicators; leading KPIs; lagging KPIs; sales KPIs; operational KPIs; customer KPIs; KPIs for everyone and anything.  And, how can a round table discussion about KPIs be held without including the systems and technology that store all of that data?  It’s been stated about Google:

Google tracks everything; and everything is a lot. 

Unknown Sage

Mike Hanbery and John Brackney led a stimulating, 1-hour discussion on KPIs, data, and big data.  Webolutions does a great job of getting past systems hype and really focusing on the strategic thinking necessary for today’s technology to be used effectively.

On my left was an industrial engineer.  I believe he and I found agreement:

Machine-generated data is precise; People-generated data is messy.

Across from me was the CEO of a regional eye care center, who stated all the data in the world doesn’t help him convince one of their doctors to consider changing his or her practice habits:

Conventional IT Wisdom:

A good idea is no match for a bad habit. 

Frank Hayes

When Mike noticed I had been quiet he decided to ask for my opinion.  Mike knew what he was asking for – I have attended many of his company’s meetings and taken their “Join the Conversation” invitation literally.  I doubt he was surprised when I offered the position that data has no value.  Then, I expanded and said data is actually worse than that.  That stimulated the conversation!

When challenged, I first clarified that my views are solely based on the sales profession and data, even big data, might be terrific in the engineering and medical professions; marketing too.  But in the sales profession, data typically just drags people down to the bowels of CRM “administrivia”, which according to Wikipedia:

Administrivia: 

Administrative details that must be dealt with in order to do more interesting work.

Too much attention to CRM data and administrative details prevent sales people from doing “more interesting work”, aka selling!  And don’t even get me started on predictive analytics (which I have addressed before http://thequoteguys.com/2015/02/self-obliteration/ )

Yet here we are often citing CRM systems in our examples of all the data that can be harvested for KPI purposes.  But at what cost?

According to Integrity Solutions (aka a “data” source), who cites CEB’s research (aka “big data”):

The number and diversity of buyers involved in a typical B2B purchase has increased to 6.8, according to CEB data.

Integrity Solutions then coupled that data and big data with LinkedIn (aka, “really big data”):

Based on reports from LinkedIn, 20% of the people involved in a purchase change roles every year.  In other words, the person you’re selling to today may not be in that role when you have your next meeting.

Yep, we’re tracking data that will likely prove to be entirely useless.

I favor Vince Gatti’s view about using CRM for personal coaching of our “future-self”.

In the sales profession, I’ll vote for “next step action” over KPIs every time; how about you?

GAP

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Leadership (again)…

Let’s go again…  Whether at work; within our family; on a sports team; in the classroom; by our government; in every relationship; can you think of any area of our lives that is not impacted (positively or negatively) by leadership?

We’ve all worked for “that” boss, true?  You know, the good one; or the bad one; the one that inspired us; the terror; the young one, the old one…  I bet you can remember that boss that impacted your life, yes?

What makes a good boss tick?  John Maxwell offers:

A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.

His viewpoint was included in a post by one of my favorite thought leaders, Dr. Travis Bradberry in “Why Nice Bosses Finish First”. (see https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-nice-bosses-finish-first-dr-travis-bradberry )

Is that the key?  To be effective as a boss do we have to be nice?  When we work for a nice boss, does she command our respect; inspire us to perform; prevent us from quitting?  Dr. Brad summarized a survey from Randstad Consulting that found,

… most employees would trade in their bosses for better ones rather than receive a $5,000 pay raise.

Hmmm… assigning a trade value for a good boss; $5,000 per year.  I think one challenge in comparing the trade to a raise is what our Unknown Sage taught us:

The Salary Axiom:

The pay raise is just large enough to increase your taxes and just small enough to have no effect on your take-home pay.

Makes me think that being the boss; especially an effective boss; is situational.

I was the nice boss once – my people trampled on me!  I had no credibility, they gave me no respect, my department was a mess, but everyone would say, “That Gary, what a nice guy.”

I started thinking about turning to the dark side.  We’ve all read about those tyrannical leaders.  Steve Jobs was legendary in his manner of berating employees.  Is your boss a screamer?    We never know for sure if they’re truly a horse’s ass, or if this is their way of motivating employees.

Stanley Gault CEO of Rubbermaid:

He responds to the accusation of being a tyrant with the statement, “Yes, but I’m a sincere tyrant.”

I wonder who Stanley followed to develop his leadership style.  What do I know?  Back in the day when I took my second go-round as the boss, I was cautious.  Thankfully, my sales people were patient.  They helped me trip across a foundational leadership principle I believe in to this day.

Back then when our new fiscal year rolled around I was tasked with raising quotas; shrinking territories; and tweaking comp plans; 3 things that anger sales reps almost universally.  In my case, each of my reps came into my office individually and complained about how unfair the changes were.

Walking that fine line between being too nice of a boss (aka pushover) vs. a tyrant; I patiently listened to each person’s complaints but held firm on the changes.  And that’s when it dawned on me!

The Principle of Equal Unfairness

When everyone on my team believes I am being unfair, then that means I am being equally unfair; and being equally unfair is fair.

I’m not sure that made me the “nice boss”, but I can tell you my sales teams always got over the annual ritual and excelled.  Hmmm… equal unfairness… maybe I’m on to something?

GAP

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Philosophy vs. Fact – Part 2…

You might remember that I started down the philosophical path last year (see http://thequoteguys.com/2016/06/philosophy-or-fact/ ).  I didn’t get very far.  That’s OK; in the business world, sharing philosophical ideals can be a career mine field:

Seek those who find your road agreeable, your personality and mind stimulating, your philosophy acceptable, and your experience helpful.  Let those who do not, seek their own kind. 

Jean-Henri Fabre

If your boss and boss’ boss are not of your kind – watch out for the BOOM!

Recently, as my business team was putting our 2017 plans in place I found myself at the precipice of entering a philosophical discussion.  I was tempted to start my pontification but those in the meeting were not of my kind.  I decided to avoid the BOOM!  Now I turn to you instead; lucky you LoL!

In the sales profession, the more sales meetings I attend; the more sales people I coach; the more sales MeetUps I join; the more sales blogs I read; the more sales videos I watch; the more sales books I digest – most seers, soothsayers, philosophers, and pontificators I witness (this seer, soothsayer, philosopher and pontificator included) are presenting their philosophy as if it were fact:

It seems to me that no soothsayer should be able to look at another soothsayer without laughing. 

Cicero

To further their/my persuasional pursuits they/I offer a variety of “independent research” as proof behind their/my philosophy, which in actuality is simply other seers’ and soothsayers’ philosophies posing as fact.  Have you ever noticed the volume of sales research accredited to the Harvard Business Review ©? Remind me again – how much sales experience is associated with Harvard?

IMHO, much of this “research” isn’t based on the Scientific Method (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method ), rather it is a compilation of interviews where the interviewees are – you guessed it – simply sharing their philosophies.

I’ve often wondered:  if these research firms ever went back to the same people with the same questions at a later date, would they come to the same conclusions?  Or would the interviewees’ philosophies have changed?

Whether the glass is half empty or half full depends on whether you’re drinking or pouring. 

Anthony Boxer

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m a believer in deep thinking.  The sales profession has been one of the oldest and most confounding endeavors on the planet.  What works for one person; doesn’t for another.  What worked on one prospect; blows up in our face on another.  Many have claimed to have figured it out – and they are all still working for a living.  One would philosophize that if something as instrumental to our way of life as sales was “figured out” – the one who did the figuring would have retired to a private island in the South Pacific, yes?

In today’s world of “Big Data” one can find supporting data (posing as “research”, in support of soothsaying) to back up just about any sales philosophy:

With today’s Internet, everything can be recorded.  And everything is a lot. 

Unknown Sage

At the end of the discourse, my philosophy is that each sales professional should have a sales approach that works for him or her.  If it works – it’s the right approach; and, I might add the right philosophy.  If it doesn’t work – then logically it’s the wrong approach:

Manley’s Maxim

Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.

Or so says this soothsayer – submitting my philosophy for your consideration – as fact, naturally.

GAP

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It’s a duck…

Managing people can be a challenging; rewarding; and sometimes messy business, true?  For all the talk about employee engagement, front line “supervision” seems to remain a consistent phenomenon in our business world.  Are employees just incorrigible?

As one IT Professional put it; “We’ve been reorganized, restructured, re-engineered, right-sized, down-sized, up-sized, TQM’ed, and MBO’ed, and if I hear the word empowered once more, I swear I’m gonna scream!” 

Geoffrey James

What happens to us when we get promoted to a manager?

Man-a-ger (man-i-gir) n 1. Coach, Teacher, instructor, Leader 2. Mr. Know-It-All, Ego with Legs 3. One who has or will have an ulcer 4. One who apologizes to subordinates for the stupid actions of superiors 5. One who apologizes to superiors for the actions of subordinates.

What’s the key to being a successful manager?  Hall of Fame baseball manager Casey Stengel had this philosophy:

The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.

With all the animosity and bad jokes about management, many of us still seek that big promotion, don’t we?  In some companies (mine included) a sort of artificial environment is created where employees adopt the feeling:

If I’m not moving up; I must be moving down.

My friend and former colleague, Adam, had this affliction.  Truth be told, I’ve suffered from it myself.

Experienced; skilled; articulate; professional; I can’t say enough about Adam’s talents.  And I think I know the cause of his “moving down” affliction.  We were observing other, less talented colleagues at our company get promoted into front line sales manager roles.

We see it all the time, don’t we?  Those that can do; while those that can’t perfect the internal politic of wooing their boss to promote them.  I was so afflicted early in my career that when two of my best friends were promoted, I could not share the joy of their success.  Nope, in my mind I was “moving down”.  I needlessly quit a great job because of it.

So when Adam caught that bug, I knew the early warning signs.  I tried to offer a little “elderly wisdom” to no avail.  He was going to take a promotion into a bad job come hell or high water.  Which would it be you ask?  Hell or high water?  Well, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Sure enough, within 10 months of total emersion into his managerial assignment; facing  innumerable obstacles; receiving little support from his superiors; the man who promoted him to begin with called one day.  When needing to deliver bad news, managers often “tip their hand”, hoping to soften the blow I suspect.

Ten months into his role, the discussion was about returning to a front line sales rep role (aka a demotion).  That’s not exactly how his superior said it.  The conversation was less direct; more vague.  Adam called me to relate the exchange and ask for a little “elderly wisdom”.  “Were they really demoting me?”  he asked.  I suggested it might be a good move; a better fit for him.

A new area manager was flying in to meet with him the following week.  To me, all of the signs indicated he was being demoted.  I said to Adam, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…”  I asked him to let me know how the meeting went.

Adam called me that following week – he left a voice mail, “It’s a duck”.

GAP

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